Friday, April 30, 2010

How Sexy Shoes Will Write This Book

I'm playing motivational mind games with myself again and this time I'm spurring my word count with help from some shoes. Read the whole sordid story by clicking through to the Stiletto Gang, a very appropriate place for this particular post.

Today I'm in Arlington, VA, at the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference. Tomorrow morning I'll attend a new authors breakfast and later I'll speak on a panel about Mysteries Set in the Great Outdoors. At the evening's Agatha Awards, I'll finally get to wear the shoes mentioned in today's Stiletto Gang post. It should be a fun weekend. I'll bring back a full report. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Did that kid just hit on me? A post by Mrs. Robinson.

This afternoon I was at the library (which is all this post has to do with books, sorry) and as I was leaving, two respectable looking young men came in the door. I'd put them in their late teens.

I did the door dance with one of them. You know the one. I swerve, he swerves, we both go the other way, no wait, after you, how about I go over here? Right. So that happened. I smiled at him because it was funny, and I left. Nothing was said.

Past that exit is a foyer before you get to the real exit that goes outside. In this foyer, I turned off into a corridor to stop at the ladies room, and when I was partway down that hallway, I heard someone behind me:

"Excuse me?"

I turned. It was the door dance kid: "Are you married?"


I must say, though, his timing was impeccable. Just this very day I found another gray hair.

"I'm . . ." (trying to calculate your age, can you even vote?) ". . . married."

He gave me a warm smile and a polite apology, told me to have a nice afternoon, waved, and left. I went into the ladies room and wondered what the heck just happened.

I've been told a few times in lo, my many years that I'm fairly oblivious to come-ons. I tend to just assume everybody is friendly, and that's all. But, wow. "Are you married?" That's pretty clear, right?

But wait.

Maybe he wasn't a teenager. Could it be that he was really 25, not 18, and that I'm so old now that a 25-year-old looks 18 to me?

Or what if I'd said I was single, and then he'd said, "Super. Would you give me a hand with my tenth grade sociology project? I'm supposed to interview women in mid-life who have not found love."

I imagine many endings to the alternate conversation, and all of them end in embarrassment. I just don't see myself as the cougar type, although I would really like to have my own theme song.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Before Sending Off Your Novel

My friend Chris La Tray posted this excellent find today. I confess I'm guilty of many of these in my early drafts. The trick is spotting and fixing them on later passes, before the world sees.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

“Hey Rachel, how’s the book doing?”

People are often surprised to hear that I don’t know.

This post falls under my “demystification” heading and is meant for those of you interested in what happens on the business end of a book contract. Keep in mind that I’m an “n of 1,” as we in scientific fields say. Others will have different experiences, and that’s why it’s important to visit other writing/publishing blogs and make lots of writer-type friends to learn more about how stuff works.

Some background:

Final Approach came out eight months ago. My contract says that every April I’ll receive a royalty statement for sales in the previous calendar year. That’s fine, except it left this newbie with a few anxiety-filled questions for eight long months while I waited for April to roll around:

  1. Is my publisher losing money on me? I’ve said before that one of my biggest worries has been letting down the folks who took a chance on me. A publisher invests money in its authors. There is always a bit of stress on my end wondering if that risk paid off. I’d hate to disappoint my publisher, and I’d really, really hate to cost them money.
  2. Did the ads work? Last fall I dropped a lot of cash on print ads in skydiving magazines, hoping to reach readers in that niche. A royalty statement that blankets sales for the whole previous year doesn’t indicate which months did better than others. So there was no way for me to know if this method of promotion should be abandoned or repeated.
  3. What about bookstore and library events? How about on-line promotion? Was there a sales spike during weeks I guest blogged, or during the months I did more in-person events? No telling.
  4. “How many copies have sold?” Your guess is as good as mine.

The statement came last week and some of these were answered. I was relieved that I sold through my advance, which I’m guessing means that my publisher did not lose money on the book. Since the statement reported total sales, there wasn’t an indication which months sold better than others, but my publisher is changing that this year and will mail statements more frequently. That means authors will have a better idea about which of our promotional efforts are working. Good news, all around.

Mainly, I was excited to see that more copies of Final Approach sold than the number of people I know on the planet. That means that my neighbors and mailman aren’t the only ones picking up the book.

For those who may wonder, I still spend way more money on writing than I bring in. The bulk of what I spend goes toward conference travel, the rest goes toward promotion. I’d go to writers’ conferences even if I didn’t have a book out; those things are just plain fun. So I don’t view that as a loss. But I’m sharing this here to reiterate what you probably already know: writing probably won’t make you rich. The rewards, for me at least, are the intangibles: time spent in my imagination, watching a new story unfold, and the feeling of accomplishment when I finally get to type THE END.

Switching gears now, I have a Book 3 update: I finally started it.

To keep myself honest, I’ve added a progress bar over there on the left. If you see it sit in the same place too long, consider this your license to open a can of whoop-ass on me. With the help of a friend, I’ve devised a humiliating punishment for any weeks I may miss my word count goal, and this will be unveiled on my April 30th Stiletto Gang post.

Gotta keep things fun.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Left Coast Crime from a librarian's perspective

You'll meet a lot of great people at writers' conferences. Last month at Left Coast Crime I met Terry Jacobsen, a librarian from California who wrote a nice piece about her conference experience. It's shared here in hopes that those of you who are setting out on your writing journeys will get your booties to the next conference near you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nathan Bransford: The Way Cocktail Parties Should Really Go

Not much I can add here except that I really liked his post today and think it's worth a read. It made me smile.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hitting the Links

I found some sweet links yesterday, neither related to the other.

From the business end of things, Eric at Pimp My Novel included a list of publishing acronyms that may be useful to new writers. At Backspace Writers, author Marcus Sakey shared fantastic advice about storytelling that I think is great for new writers and veterans alike. It's a very nice piece.

Synopsis update: Slow, but moving forward.